April 5, 2014 3:56:02 am
India has sent a team of 80 additional commandos to Afghanistan to secure Indian installations, including the embassy building, there as the country goes for Presidential elections on Saturday.
Senior officials said the decision to rush in the commandos was taken last year but they were strategically sent ahead of the Presidential elections to guard the Indian embassy and consular buildings in the war-torn country. “The additional batch of commandos left for Afghanistan last week to secure the indian installations there. They will be deployed for perimeter security cover as as well as mobile security cover to the embassy officials in wake of any attack,” said a senior official who did not want to be named.
The commandos, who have been pulled from the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force, were sent to Afghanistan on the request of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). These men would be in addition to the 220 commandos already deployed there.
“The issue is not only the Presidential elections but extending security even after that. The peripheral security is the responsibility of the Afghan authorities but the immediate security is taken care of by our commandos,” said the official. He said some more commandos will also be sent in the next few days as necessary travel and other arrangements were being done by the MEA.
Another official said the decision to augment the strength of commandos in Afghanistan was taken after credible intelligence inputs that Indian installations were high on the radar of the terror outfits there.
“We are getting threat inputs about an attack on the Indian embassy on a continuous basis. In fact every week there are two such inputs. We do not want to take any chance as Afghanistan enters a critical phase since US forces would withdraw in a phased manner after the new government is formed,” an officer said.
The deployment will cater to the main embassy complex in Kabul as well as the consulate offices in Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Herat.
Will continue to support Afghan security forces, says PM’s special envoy
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
With a non-governmental Afghanistan task force report pitching for stronger military cooperation between New Delhi and Kabul, the Prime Minister’s special envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Satinder K Lambah on Friday, said India will continue to provide assistance as per “Afghan requests and priorities”.
“India sees support to Afghan National Security Forces as an important part of its commitment to Afghan people. This is also an element of our Strategic Partnership Agreement and we will continue to provide assistance in accordance with Afghan requests and priorities,” Lambah said.
He was speaking at the release of the report prepared by a task force, co-chaired by Radha Kumar of Delhi Policy Group, a former Interlocutor of the GOI on Jammu and Kashmir, and G Parthasarathy, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, on behalf of the Ananta Aspen Centre.
On the Afghan elections, Lambah said, “It is a matter of satisfaction that all the important and formidable candidates in tomorrow’s Presidential elections stand for close friendship with India.”
He added, “Our vision of Afghanistan is of a stable and peaceful hub linking Central and South Asia through a network of trade, transit and pipelines for the ultimate benefit of the countries and the people in the region.”
“I hope, therefore, that the promised development of Chahbahar Port through cooperation between India and Iran is also realised soon”, he said. He noted India had reached out to Afghanistan’s neighbours and stakeholders for a constructive engagement that places Afghan interests at the centre of India’s efforts. India’s engagement with Iran, Russia and China, besides Central Asia, had increased, the special envoy said. He said India remained engaged with the US and continued to seek similar cooperation with Pakistan on Afghanistan.
The report says India has good reason to be concerned about post-2014 period as Indian security has been threatened by factions in Afghanistan and from Pakistan since late 1990s and could be threatened again. The report states India needs to step up political, diplomatic, and security relations with Afghanistan, bilaterally and multilaterally.
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